Justice committee won’t support ‘premature’ attempt to remove Mkhwebane

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane Picture: Morapedi Mashashe
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane Picture: Morapedi Mashashe

A bid to remove Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane from office has been stifled as Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services decided not to support a request to expedite proceedings to remove her.

The committee said it would be “premature” to do so.

The Democratic Alliance’s John Steenhuisen approached Parliament in September 2017 and again in February 2018 to call for the immediate removal of Mkhwebane after a 2017 ruling by the High Court in Pretoria found that she grossly went above her powers when she recommended constitutional amendments to alter the mandate of the Reserve Bank.

Mkhwebane opined on allegations of maladministration, corruption, misuse of public funds, and failure by the government to recover public funds from Absa.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete referred the matter to the portfolio committee on justice.

But, in a statement today, the committee said it was “of the view that section 194 of the Constitution and section 2(1)(c) of the Public Protector Act of 1994 envisage a factual inquiry into the fitness of the Public Protector”.

It was the National Assembly that should determine Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office, the committee said, and this discretion could not be replaced by the court’s view.

“The committee noted that legal proceedings related to the judgement are ongoing. As such, we believe that it would be premature for removal proceedings to be instituted against the PP. After careful consideration, the committee has concluded not to support the request,” committee chairperson Madipoane Mothapo said.

Meanwhile, in a statement this afternoon, Steenhuisen said the DA would submit a minority report on the matter.

“Today’s committee recommendation is nothing new and the ANC will continue to shield their rank and file from the consequences of their actions. This draft report fails dismally to deal with the substantive merits of the matter as well as the substantive court findings made against the Public Protector in this matter. It is patently clear that the Public Protector is not a fit and proper person for this process and is unfit for office,” Steenhuisen said.

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